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Poker Bad Beats - How to Avoid Them

How to Avoid Poker Bad Beats

There are ways that you can avoid the crushing defeat that poker bad beats deliver, and still come out smiling on the other side of the poker table.

It's just not fair

Let me paint a scenario for you. Let's suppose that you're playing high-stakes no limit Texas Hold'em poker. The hole cards come in, and you receive a pair of sevens.

Now, in a game like this, with stakes as high as they are, a pair of sevens is unlikely to be much use. Your instinct tells you to toss it, but you've been playing for two hours now and you're bored. You decide to call.

Magically, the flop brings you another seven. Suddenly you're holding three of a kind, and since the other two flop cards are pretty useless as well, it's likely that your hand is dynamite. You know you can't appear too weak, so you throw in a small raise.

You get called, and the game continues. What's this? The turn has brough you another seven. Sick! You are now holding a set of quads, this is brilliant! You raise again. You get called again - ha ha! They think you're bluffing.

The river is another insignificant number, but your opponent goes all in. Quads? You'll take that action. You follow them into the pot, and smugly flip over your hole cards with the biggest grin on your face.

That grin dies pretty quickly when you realise that, in your excitement of your quads, you fail to notice that a natural straight was forming on the table, and your opponent's hole cards, plus that seemingly useless river card, completed it. You just lost everything.

Bad beat, my friend, bad beat.

Oh the pain!

In one sense, there really is no surefire way to avoid the bad beat situation. When it happens, you typically have what you believe is either an extremely strong or otherwise unbeatable hand. The fact is, when you have a strong hand, you try and maximise the amount of chips you can get out of it, and if your opponent is going along with it, it appears to be all to the good.

So spotting when you are in trouble can be really difficult.

Being able to read the mind of your opponent would be the biggest help here, or perhaps you could set up a mirror behind them, or cut a deal with a cocktail waitress to give you hand signals indicating what cards your rival has.

However, none of the above methods are particularly practical - or legal, for that matter. So how do we avoid bad beats?

Cash in

The best strategy for avoiding poker bad beats is this: don't avoid them. Embrace them.

Sounds crazy? It's not. Most of the really big online poker sites have what is known as a Bad Beat Jackpot. They skim a tiny amount from each pot that gets played, and toss it into a growing fund.

When a player is defeated in a crushing bad beat (the rules usually stipulate a quad hand or better), this triggers the Bad Beat Jackpot, which is split amongst all the players at the table, with the bad beat loser getting the lion's share.

So you see, a bad beat could be the best thing that ever happened to you.